Drama, Dance & Music

Actors and actresses work in theatre, film, television and radio. They use their voice, body actions and imagination, to create characters and tell the story that the scriptwriter or playwright has written.

Work Activities

Actors and actresses work in live stage performances and/or film, television and radio. Their job is to bring to life the role they are playing, as effectively as possible.

Much of their time is spent learning lines and in rehearsals. Some actors also spend time researching the character they are to play. Often, actors and actresses draw on their own emotions and experiences, to make their performances as convincing as possible. They sometimes have to change their voice and appearance for a role.

Actors and actresses often work long hours, including working at night. It is not uncommon for actors and actresses on location to have to wait for the right conditions (eg, lighting) before they can perform.

Actors and actresses can often find themselves out of work. They might spend this time doing temporary work, learning parts for auditions and attending drama and vocal technique classes. They can sometimes be in competition with hundreds of other actors/actresses when trying for a part.

In theatre, actors and actresses sometimes perform two shows a day (matinee and evening). While on tour, they stay in temporary accommodation and can spend weeks away from home.

In film and television, an actor or actress's workload can include early starts, late finishes, weekend work and working on public holidays. On location, they are likely to work in all weather conditions.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To be able to engage with an audience, to memorise lines, to be able to work collaboratively, and enjoy the creative process.

Pay And Opportunities

Acting an overcrowded profession, with many more candidates for jobs than vacancies.

Typical employers of actors

Actors/actresses typically work in theatre, TV, film and radio.


Qualifications and training required

The usual route towards a career as an adult performer is to attend an acting course at a drama school. There are drama schools at various locations across the UK.

Entry to drama school is competitive. Applicants are selected by interview and audition (and usually have to pay audition fees). You will need to satisfy drama schools that you have sufficient ability to study at this level. This may be through formal qualifications, such as A levels, or relevant experience (or both).

The majority of accredited drama school courses last for two or three years and lead to either a BA degree in acting or a recognised diploma. Successful completion will also entitle you to membership of Equity.

Some drama schools offer postgraduate courses for would-be actors and actresses who already have a degree.

University-based degree courses in acting or performing arts (with acting as a major study area) are available, and are another possible route into acting.

Drama school entry

Entry requirements for courses accredited by Drama UK vary between drama schools.

Some drama schools base their selection procedure entirely on auditions, while others prefer to select students who do well at audition and have qualifications that are suitable for entry to a degree course.

The majority of drama schools agree that a good education is important. Check drama school prospectuses/websites for details of specific requirements.

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